It's becoming more and more common for couples to include their opposite-sex besties in their wedding party, and we're loving the trend. Why not have a "man of honor" if your brother is your best pal, or a "groomsmaid" if your guy's BFF is his female college classmate? That said, it can create some, let's say, interesting dynamics when planning events leading up to the big day. Does your bridesman actually have to sit through your lingerie shower? And should your groomsmaid tag along to a rowdy strip club bachelor party outing?
Though certain events have been typically reserved for just guys or just gals, these rules aren't as strict anymore, says Lisa Criscera, founder and co-owner of wedding and event planning company L.C. Solutions LLC. "Let's face it—while tradition has its place, these days, anything goes!" Criscera says. "There are no rules for gender segregation when it comes to wedding festivities. If a bride has bridesmen and a groom has groomsmaids, there are certainly ways to include all wedding party members in the events leading up to the wedding."
Here's how to make it work:
Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties
You may think that bachelor or bachelorette parties are reserved for members of the bridal party of one gender, but that's only if you're planning on going an uber-traditional route. If you think outside the box, members of both sexes can be included without having an awkward stripper moment—we promise.
"Bachelor parties have evolved from the cliché male drinking retreat," Criscera says. "Trips to the beach, fishing/boating trips, backyard cookouts and a night out on the town are all common plans for this pre-wedding ritual. So who is to say that the ladies can't be a part of this? If the groom has sisters or female close friends, why not include them at the bachelor party? If they are important enough to stand up with the groom for the wedding, they certainly can join in the pre-wedding celebration!"
The same goes for the bachelorette party. "A trip to [Chippendales] is not necessary, and while a spa day might not be the bridesmen's thing, there are plenty of ways to plan co-ed activities," she says. "You could even encourage the ladies to bring spouses and make it a couples' weekend or party so that there are not, [for example], 10 gals and only two guys. In many cases, you could even plan a co- bachelor and bachelorette party where both the bride and groom (or both brides and both grooms) attend and all of the wedding party is invited." By going that route, everyone in your bridal party has a chance to bond and hang out as a group before the actual wedding weekend.
If you're worried that your bridesman will be bored to tears at a bridal shower, or feel uncomfortable watching you open lingerie, rethink the structure of your bridal shower. "Having a co-ed shower (sometimes called Jack and Jill shower) can be so much fun!" Criscera says. "Nix the lingerie and cheesy wedding games and make it more about socializing and showering the bride and groom with presents and well wishes. Have some great food, fun drinks, and craft beers so that there is something for everyone to enjoy. You could even have it in the evening and include some music for dancing or other party games." Adios to anything that could be awkward (ahem, opening up unmentionables in front of your closest male cousin), and keep the focus on having fun with your nearest and dearest.
No need to worry about who to invite to this one—both your guys and your girls should be there the night before your big day. According to Criscera, all wedding party members and close family are invited to the rehearsal dinner. It's a great time to have the most important people in your life all around you in a lower key setting right before you walk down the aisle.
Not sure how to handle getting ready on the day of the wedding? It might be a good idea to ask the members of your bridal party to see what their comfort level is. Maybe your groomsman wants to hang out the entire time you're prepping, or maybe he wants to come only towards the end of the hair and makeup time frame. (Just make sure that there are plenty of spaces where people can privately change or get dressed, so no one feels uncomfortable.)
Ultimately, Criscera says, no matter the event, you know the players involved and the dynamics best, so do what works for you and your better half. "Just remember—it is your wedding and you can plan things whichever way makes you happy!" she says.